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Being a happy human

9 July 2020

Will we enter the ‘new normal’ able to feel better about ourselves or will we revert to our old ways? This is the opportunity for us to look at how we can improve our overall wellbeing, says Michelle Hoskin, managing director, Standards International

First published in the July/August issue of Professional Paraplanner.

I think it’s safe to say that the topic of wellbeing – and in particular financial ‘wellbeing’ – is well and truly on its way to being overcooked. And, as with many other areas of financial services, we go through a period of obsession before that subsides to become part of the very important ‘normal’.

However, the financial aspect of overall wellbeing is just that: it’s one aspect and there are so many other key ingredients to throw into the mixing bowl, each of which add the beautiful flavours that make up a life of happiness and wellbeing.

In 2008, the Government commissioned a review into what actually contributes to a person’s ‘overall’ wellbeing. That review was conducted by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) on behalf of Foresight* and it drew on state-of-the-art research from across the world to consider how to improve everyone’s mental capital and mental wellbeing through life. The evidence suggests that a small improvement in wellbeing can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish.

Five action points

The document set out five actions to help improve personal wellbeing – and I think it is safe to say that if there was ever a time to direct our attention to this it’s now.

As we enter into what I hope will be the latter stages of lockdown, behaviours are changing. As the new normal becomes normal I am seeing – in both my personal and professional groups – people falling back into their old habits. For some the daily walks have dropped off, the fitness routines are taking somewhat of a back seat and the daily focus to stay upbeat and positive is starting to subside. The novelty is wearing off and cabin fever is well and truly setting in.

Now I know I am generalising massively, but I bet if you took a moment to reflect even on your own behaviours then some of what I am saying will ring true!

So, it’s time for a reminder. It’s time for a rocket to wake us all up. The truth is, if we don’t focus on this and keep ourselves stimulated and well then, we won’t be. We need to pay attention, otherwise there are going to be a whole load of people we are going to have to pull out of some very dark places.

So, what’s needed? Well, if the five ways to wellbeing are right, which I think they are, then here’s what we need to do. And remember this is not just for the grown-ups… the five ways are relevant for everyone!

2. Connect

Connect with yourself and with those important people in your life! There are always going to be people who you know you should have in your life – as well as those ones you’re not sure should be and you have no idea what they are doing here or even how they got here! Whether it’s over phone, Zoom, FaceTime or a simple text: make an effort to connect. Talk, laugh, moan and groan – it doesn’t matter but ONLY surround yourself with people who bring out the absolute best in you. When this is all over, it is perfectly OK to have a people spring clean of your ‘friend’ list!

2. Be active 

Get out! Move, do a workout at home, run around the garden, even take a walk. Create some new, fun exercise habits while you can. Exercising makes you feel good and of course, most importantly, try to find a physical activity that you enjoy and can keep you motivated and engaged and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

3. Take notice

Take notice of everything. Watch and listen! It’s the time to become curious. Catch sight of all the beautiful stuff that you haven’t noticed before because life is nuts and you rush around way too much. Savour the moments that will be gone again in a flash. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences and life will help you appreciate what matters the most.

4. Keep learning

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. With the abundance of free stuff available at the moment, there really is no excuse! Blimey you can even become a Harvard or Yale graduate from the comfort of your own sofa! Push yourself, offer to help the team, take on a new role or responsibilities. Read that book or books that have been collecting dust on your bookshelf. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving while in lockdown. Get stimulated, increase your confidence and learn something new!

5. Give

Give to others but not before you have given to yourself! Be nice, be kind and you will receive back what you give out.
At a time of crisis, people’s true colours and character are shown so encourage the best of you to shine. Do something nice for a friend, or even for a stranger, because let’s be honest we may not all be in the same boat but we are in the same storm. Smile: it’s amazing how that will make others feel!
It’s not all about giving money… in fact, I think the most rewarding actions are the free ones. Go on – you can do it – and here’s a shout out to all those doing their good deeds for the day!

*Foresight’s Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project – https://neweconomics.org/2008/10/five-ways-to-wellbeing

Standards International will be running certified Mental Health and Wellbeing workshops as soon as lockdown lets up: https://standardsinternational.co.uk/events/




Professional Paraplanner